Providing adequate childcare for essential employees is critical to Ireland’s response to the coronavirus, according to a new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
The study says over a fifth of the Irish workforce are essential workers, and that 100,000 of them have children under the age of 14. It criticises Government proposals to provide childcare to 5,000 health workers as inadequate.
Essential employees during the Covid-19 crisis says most essential workers are concentrated in low-paid sectors like retail and non-professional health grades, and says they can’t afford extra childcare costs.
Some 80% of essential workers also have a partner that works, 20% have a partner who is also an essential worker, and 9% are lone parents. Nearly 70% of essential workers are women.
Paul Redmond who co-authored the report, said the proposed weekly fee of €90 for state-supported childcare could be a struggle for the essential workers in lower-paid health jobs.
Fórsa, which represents over 30,000 health workers, has been seeking a solution to the issue of childcare provision for essential staff since schools and crèches were closed on 12th March.
The union favours direct childcare provision for essential staff, or a payment to meet the additional costs incurred by individuals who made their own childcare arrangements after schools and crèches closed.
The ESRI report, which was completed before the Government made its recent announcement, was also critical of the lack of direct provision.
“Unlike other countries, such as the UK, there has not yet been direct government provision for the childcare needs of essential employees in Ireland. Furthermore, given that many essential workers are concentrated in lower paid occupations, the capacity of many such employees to pay for additional childcare services is likely to be substantially constrained.
“Therefore, facilitating adequate childcare for these essential employees is critical to ensure that we can continue to respond to the crisis,” it says.
Read the report HERE.